By Kimberly Wallis

Whether you are new to an area or you’ve lived there your whole life, shopping local is a great way to both support your community and connect with other people in it. Checking out the local farmers market is fun and can be a great way to meet people with interests similar to yours. 

Types of sellers may vary each time you visit a farmers market but offerings usually include organic food, local honey, flowers, plants, seasonal fruits and veggies, homemade jellies, jams, or preserves, arts and crafts, and gift baskets.

Many of these sellers have poured their hearts into their goods by lavishing their time and attention on them, so they are more than willing to go the extra mile for those who appreciate that. You might get sent home with new recipes or a sample of something to try out. Maybe you’ll pick up some pointers at the arts and crafts booth. Could be that you find the perfect gift nestled amongst the woodworking display. It’s even possible you’ll get to try out a totally new ethnic dish from one of the food vendors. You never know what you’ll find tucked away in one!

You can also find some fantastic offerings, usually pretty reasonably priced, that aren’t already in everyone else’s homes (thanks to the magic of big box stores). This is a huge draw for me because I want my personal space to reflect my personal style.

Purchasing locally sourced food helps your family eat healthier by switching some of the processed food out of your diet in favor of fresher options; at the same time, this helps your neighbor and their family out financially. Added bonus, it’s better for the environment because it cuts down on shipping and helps with maintaining a natural habitat for native wildlife.

Find out what’s coming up locally at Leesville Main Street; their Third Street Market is open every Saturday from 8 AM- 1PM (no seller fees except for special events!).

Downtown Deridder’s McConathy Market is also a good local option. Also, check out Bountiful Baskets, not a market but in the same realm, a food co-op where you can feed your family much cheaper! 

There are also a few farmers markets around the state you should probably consider visiting at least once. For instance, plan for an entire day to visit the French Market. It spans six blocks of the French Quarter in New Orleans and is the oldest market of its kind in the United States. Another one you can make an entire day out of is a trip to the Flea Market of Louisiana and nearby Tanger Outlet Mall. Heads up though, you may need a U-Haul to get back home from these! 

You can make short day trips out of visiting the farmers markets in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Natchitoches, or Alexandria. Louisiana Travel made a list of popular ones around the state that you can find here.

Since farmers’ markets can affect such a positive impact on our communities, wouldn’t it be almost wrong not to take advantage of the many benefits you personally get out of it?